Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Luke Voit, Spencer Strider among this week’s top targets

Last week’s flurry of bidding on prospect callups (and Rowdy Tellez) may be the closest we will come to a FABapalooza this season, but one prospect was called up too late for inclusion in last week’s column. The Diamondbacks promoted Alek Thomas last Sunday, and while he was the target of some hefty FAB bids, he is still widely available in 12-team leagues and likely in some deeper leagues, too. The 22-year-old outfielder is off to a great start to his major league career, going 5-for-13 (.385) with a home run and two doubles in his first four games. In the minors, Thomas has shown great plate skills with power, and last season, that resulted in a .313/.394/.559 combined slash line at Double-A Amarillo and Triple-A Reno. He tallied 28 stolen bases between 2019 and 2021, but given that it took 48 attempts to get them, we shouldn’t count on Thomas to be a factor for steals with the Diamondbacks.

Thomas has started each of the Diamondbacks’ games since his promotion, and there are no apparent obstacles to playing time for the foreseeable future. He probably won’t produce as much power as Juan Yepez or realize the batting average upside that Jose Miranda has (notwithstanding his current .128 batting average), but Thomas is still worth bidding 1-to-2 percent of your total FAB budget in 12-team leagues and 5-to-6 percent in the deeper leagues where he is still available.

While this week’s group of FAB targets doesn’t have the buzz that last week’s did, there are still several players worth pursuing. Check ’em out!

Luke Voit, 1B, SDG: Sees returned from his IL stint for a biceps injury on Tuesday, and given his two-homer performance on Wednesday against the Cubs, it seems fair to assume he is fully healthy. Even with those home runs, Voit’s slash line is an underwhelming .184/.349/.327. His batting average should rise, since his 15.6 percent line-drive rate looks like a small sample artifact, and a 96.9 mph average exit velocity on fly balls and line drives (EV FB/LD) shows that he still has plenty of power. He’s mostly unavailable in deeper leagues, but he was dropped in one of mine, so it’s worth taking a minute to check your waivers in just about any league.

Bidding: 2-to-3 percent in 12-team leagues, 6-to-7 percent in 15-team leagues.

Brandon Drury, 2B/3B/OF, CIN: Drury has been a decent power hitter in the past, particularly during his time with the Diamondbacks and Blue Jays, but he had not played much the last couple of seasons. Now Drury gets a home venue where middling power can translate into big power numbers. Not only is he getting a chance to play every day and bat second in the Reds lineup, but Drury is making the most of his power while posting a ground-ball rate (39.7 percent) that is seven percentage points below his career average. As long as Drury keeps hitting (which he’s been doing with a .253 average and six home runs — good for a 138 wRC+), there could be a place in the lineup for him even when Jonathan India (hamstring) returns.

Bidding: 2-to-3 percent in 12-team leagues, 5-to-6 percent in 15-team leagues.

Josh Naylor 1B/OF, CLE: Naylor has smashed three homers in his past two games, so if he continues to swing a hot bat in Minnesota this weekend, you have to figure he could take a large bid to roster him through Sunday’s FAB. I am a bit skeptical of his ability to hit for power over the longer term given that he has never been much of a slugger, aside from a partial season in the Pacific Coast League during 2019 — The Year of the Rabbit Ball. Then again, Naylor has backed up his .264 ISO this season with a 97.7 mph EV FB/LD and, at age 24, he could be coming into his own as a more complete hitter. Naylor shouldn’t merit a bid on the magnitude of the ones made for Yepez and Tellez last weekend, but he is still worth pursuing in the 12-team leagues where he is still available .

Bidding: 3-to-4 percent in 12-team leagues.

Manuel Margot, OF, TB: Even having missed the past two games with a sore hamstring, Margot is one of the most-added players in ESPN and CBS leagues, thanks to an active nine-game hitting streak. He has hit .484 with a home run and four stolen bases during the streak but, when the dust clears, Margot could still steal another 15 bases with 10 more homers the rest of the way. If you need steals and position doesn’t matter, Margot is a better option than Andrés Giménez, as he should hit for a higher average and with possibly more power.

Bidding: 2-to-3 percent in 12-team leagues.

Vidal Brujan, 2B, TB: Over the past two seasons, the Rays’ prospect has not received much of a chance to stick in the lineup, amassing just 37 plate appearances. It remains to be seen if he will get more of an opportunity this time. Even if he does stick, don’t look for Bruján to provide much power, but he is a potential stolen base source (44 steals with Triple-A Durham last season and six so far this year) who is still available in many deeper leagues .

Bidding: 2-to-3 percent in 15-team leagues.

Andrew Velazquez, SS, LAA: Even more so than Bruján, Velazquez is mainly a one-category contributor, but he has already been delivering in that category. Having emerged as the Angels’ regular shortstop, he is 5-for-5 in stolen base attempts. Though he has yet to provide much power, Velazquez won’t necessarily be a drag on your roster’s home run total. He hit seven home runs in 306 plate appearances with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, and so far with the Angels this season, he has a 96.9 mph EV FB/LD.

Bidding: 1-to-2 percent in 15-team leagues.

Ben Gamel, OF, PIT: Each week in my 15-team leagues, I see Gamel listed among the free agents, and each week I ignore him. That’s partly because, even when he was at his best during his Mariners years, you couldn’t count on Gamel for much in fantasy, other than a decent batting average and OBP. It’s also partly because he is now a Pirate, and I figured there wouldn’t be much in the way of run producing opportunities in that lineup. The Pirates have not been as bad offensively as I expected, ranking in the middle of the pack in wOBA and strikeout rate. Gamel has been striking out at a career-low 18.3 percent rate, and if he keeps that up and continues to hit atop the lineup as he’s been doing lately, he could obliterate his career high of 68 runs. Even in deeper leagues, Gamel isn’t for everyone, but if you need help with batting average and runs, he is a great add.

Bidding: 1-to-2 percent in 15-team leagues.

Jonah Heim, C, TEX: Heim has been a popular add in the past week, and why not? He is the seventh-ranked catcher in 5×5 Roto value (per FanGraphs’ auction calculator), and with Mitch Garver (forearm) out, there is extra playing time and a higher spot in the batting order to be had. Heim’s playing time could wane in a few weeks when Garver returns behind the plate, but if Heim can keep his strikeout rate low (his 8.6 percent rate is the fourth-lowest for hitters with at least 50 plate appearances), he should maintain value in two-catcher leagues.

Bidding: 0-to-1 percent in one-catcher leagues, 3-to-4 percent in two-catcher leagues.

Reid Detmers, SP, LAA: Just because Detmers no-hit the Rays on Tuesday doesn’t necessarily mean that managers will be putting down massive bids on him this Sunday. He simply is not getting swings-and-misses, as his 7.9 percent SwStr% is the 10th-lowest among the 74 pitchers with at least 30 innings. That said, he is doing a number of things well, including getting called strikes (18.0 percent rate) and avoiding hard airborne contact (89.9 mph EV FB/LD). With his next two scheduled starts coming against the Rangers (though in separate weeks), Detmers has some appeal as a short-term streamer, if nothing else.

Bidding: 0-to-1 percent in 12-team leagues. 3-to-4 percent in 15-team leagues.

Chase Silseth, SP LAA: The 21-year-old righty will make his major league debut on Friday night in Oakland, less than one year after getting drafted in the 11th round out of the University of Arizona. This will be Silseth’s eighth professional start, with the first seven all coming at Double-A Rocket City. It’s too soon to know if the erstwhile Trash Panda can come close to this season’s minor league heroics (37 strikeouts with a 1.73 ERA in 26 innings) in his debut or if he will remain in the Angels’ rotation. Depending on what happens Friday night, you may want to ignore Silseth in this weekend’s bidding, or you may want to at least look into adding him in 15-team leagues if he fares well.

Bidding: At most, 1-to-2 percent in 15-team leagues.

Kyle Bradish, SP, BAL: Bradish has been solid through his first three major league starts, and he has likely been better than his 4.24 ERA indicates. SIERA (3.17) and xFIP (3.35) take his 67.6 percent strand rate into account, and he should strand a greater proportion of his baserunners for his upcoming two-start week. Facing the Yankees and Rays at home won’t be easy, but Bradish is an option to consider in 12-team leagues.

Bidding: 2-to-3 percent in 12-team leagues, 5-to-6 percent in 15-team leagues.

Dane Dunning, SP, TEX: Dunning is barely being rostered outside of deeper leagues. He is missing bats and getting grounders — a combination that makes him worthy of adding in 12-team leagues. In addition to Dunning, here are all of the pitchers with at least 30 innings who have a CSW% of at least 29 percent and a ground-ball rate of at least 50 percent: Shane McClanahan, Paul Blackburn, Aaron Nola, Logan Webb and Max Fried. Not a bad group. His teammate, Martín Pérez, is getting more attention right now, thanks to an incredible four-start run, but Dunning is the better bet long term.

Bidding: 1-to-2 percent in 12-team leagues.

Ryan Pepiot, SP, LAD: Pepiot was demoted back to Triple-A Oklahoma City after making his major league debut on Wednesday versus the Pirates. Despite tossing three scoreless innings, Pepiot’s five walks and 27.3 percent Zone% were concerning. He could start one of the Dodgers’ doubleheader games on Tuesday against the Diamondbacks, and perhaps Clayton Kershaw’s move to the IL with a pelvic injury opens up a longer opportunity to stay in the rotation. Because Pepiot struggled in his debut, it might not take as much to win the bidding for him as it would have otherwise, and he could still be useful over the course of the season.

Bidding: 1-to-2 percent in 12-team leagues, 4-to-5 percent in 15-team leagues.

Spencer Strider, PR, ATL: Strider has been impressive in relief through the first five weeks of the season, and his past two outings have been especially strong. In tossing a combined 7.2 scoreless innings against the Brewers and Rangers, with 13 strikeouts and one walk, he is making a case to move to the rotation. If he is still available, now is the time to get him on your roster.

Bidding: 2-to-3 percent in 12-team leagues, 5-to-6 percent in 15-team leagues.

Jeffrey Springs, PR, VG: Over the past few weeks, Springs has pitched exceedingly well as a starter and long reliever, posting a 3.00 ERA and 0.83 WHIP with 11 strikeouts and two walks over his past 12 innings. He has been getting whiffs (16.6 percent rate) and chases (45.7 percent rate) at exceedingly high rates over that span, and this week, he draws a start against the woeful Tigers. He is a must-add in deeper leagues.

Bidding: 1-to-2 percent in 15-team leagues.

Brooks Raley, PR, VG: I don’t expect Kevin Cash to depart from his closer committee, but Raley has arguably been the team’s best reliever so far, and he has converted the Rays’ past two saves. There is not much to get excited about among the reliever options in deeper leagues, but if you’re looking to bolster your team in the saves standings, Raley is probably the best reliever on whom to speculate right now.

Bidding: 2-to-3 percent in 15-team leagues.

Note: Season-to-date stats are for games played through Thursday, May 12.

Statistical credits: FanGraphs, Baseball Savant, Baseball-Reference

(Top photo: Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)

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